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Statement re: Sir Richard Henriques’ report

News   •   Oct 04, 2019 10:36 BST

Statement from Deputy Commissioner Sir Stephen House:

“This morning, the Metropolitan Police has published a fuller version of Sir Richard Henriques’ report into Operation Midland. We have also for the first time published the majority of the chapter on Operation Vincente.

“Sir Richard was invited to review non-recent sexual assault investigations including Operation Midland in February 2016.

“The Met is determined to learn lessons from Sir Richard’s review to improve our response to similar situations in the future, and we published his recommendations and the key failings that he had identified in relation to Operation Midland in 2016. The MPS and the officers involved cooperated fully with Sir Richard.

“As the investigation into Carl Beech was ongoing at that time we were not able to publish the bulk of Sir Richard’s report, but since Beech was found guilty of perverting the course of justice earlier this summer, we are now able to publish a significant amount more detail.

“The other chapters of the report do not relate to Carl Beech, and are reviews of separate investigations. Today, for the first time, we are also publishing the majority of the chapter on Operation Vincente.

“Whilst all are significantly different from Operation Midland – where Beech was convicted for his lies – we have concluded that Operation Vincente is also different from the other cases due to the significant level of information the MPS has previously released about the investigation. Therefore we are also publishing Sir Richard’s analysis of the Vincente investigation and a brief description of the alleged assault, redacting only where we have legal duties to protect the complainant’s identity and personal information. We are publishing all criticism of the MPS made in the chapter, in full.

“It remains highly unusual for police to release this much information about an investigation outside of criminal proceedings but we feel it is important that those directly affected by it, or those concerned by some of the rumours that surround these investigations and indeed the report, are able to see as much of it as possible.

“This exceptional level of information is being published in response to the need to dispel rumour, the strong public interest in showing transparency, to demonstrate the decision making and complexities involved in the investigations, and our commitment to learn from past mistakes and help maintain public confidence.

“In preparing for today’s publication we have been particularly conscious of the dreadful and damaging impact of these false allegations and our investigations on those wrongly accused and their families. We have consulted all of them about today's publication, as well as Sir Richard.

“Those interested in reading the report should be aware that the Operation Midland chapter contains graphic descriptions of sexual assaults which Beech had made up. Whilst these are wholly untrue they may still be disturbing and upsetting to read.

“Within the few areas that had to remain redacted, nothing is being hidden because it is critical or embarrassing for any officer or the Metropolitan Police.

“The MPS has had this report for nearly three years now so we have, as you would rightly expect, acted on the majority of Sir Richard’s recommendations. These actions are detailed in a document accompanying the report.

“Mistakes were made in Operation Midland and we have apologised for those. We apologise for them again today. However, we do not agree with everything Sir Richard wrote in his report or indeed all of his recent statements regarding further investigations into the actions of officers.

“The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation which resulted from Sir Richard’s findings, whilst also critical of much of the Midland and Vincente investigations, ultimately concluded:

‘The allegations Nick made were grave and warranted investigation and we believe those involved in applying for the search warrant acted with due diligence and in good faith at the time’.

And:

‘There is no evidence to indicate bad faith, malice or dishonesty and no indication any of the officers may have behaved in a manner which would justify disciplinary proceedings. The information available indicates the investigation was extensive and carried out diligently with the majority of the decisions made appropriately recorded.’

“Similarly despite his strong criticism Sir Richard commented in Chapter 2 that:

‘…notwithstanding the many mistakes I have enumerated above, the officers had conducted this investigation in a conscientious manner and with propriety and honesty.’

“The officers involved have explained their actions both to Sir Richard and then again to the IOPC – this was the appropriate body to consider any misconduct. Having been in possession of all the relevant evidence, including Sir Richard’s report, their investigators concluded that there are no grounds for misconduct. That should be where this ends for those individuals.

“Our focus is about ensuring we have learnt the lessons from the report. We have already acted on Sir Richard’s recommendations and will act on those we expect from the IOPC in the coming days.

“We have also received formal notification from the Home Office of the inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate into the implementation of Sir Richard’s recommendations, the upcoming recommendations we expect the IOPC to publish and lessons learned from these investigations. The Commissioner welcomes independent assurance that the relevant lessons are properly imbedded in our practice. This is obviously important for public confidence. The HMI have the appropriate skills and independence to do this work and we welcome their engagement.

“As police officers we join the service to help people and to protect people from crime. We expect to be scrutinised for our decisions and the difficult judgments we have to make. When we get it wrong with such damaging consequences we find it genuinely distressing.

“So – finally - let me be very clear. I am deeply, deeply sorry for the mistakes that were made and the ongoing pain these have caused. I promise we will do all we can to prevent them in the future.”

Note: The report has been published on the MPS website: www.met.police.uk/henriques

If anyone has been affected by the content of the report support and advice is available by contacting London Survivors Gateway on 0808 8010860 or Rape Crisis national helpline on 0808 802 9999.